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Posts tagged maadi

Resident Perspective: Maadi Degla

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.

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Where in Cairo do you live?
I live in Maadi Degla and will be moving to Dokki soon. This area is a tasteless cut-and-paste of the West.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
The positive aspects: lots of trees and quietness (although not in the street where I live, 216 road). Negative aspects: 1) I miss a real neighborhood life and cultural activities. Lots of fast food, American style coffee shops and restaurants, but no cultural or social activities that will create a sense of neighborhood. 2) Transportation is a real problem (I do not drive), given that I go often to wast-el-balad to enjoy the cultural life.


How do you move around Cairo (modes of transport) and what would you like to see different regarding the future of transport in the city?
I move around in metro and taxi. There is a need: 1) to connect peripheral areas, which have very limited transport opportunities (microbuses and buses). The subway service needs to be expanded to distant areas such as the Fifth Settlement (where I go quite often), but I do not see how such public work could be funded. How is it possible to create settlements so far away without proper modes of transport? 2) to renew the buses and better organize the services with well planned connections.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
Maadi is an accessible area, but it is not so well connected to the city center (for European standards). They wrongly believe that if you live in an area, you make all your life there (work, leisure…) so you do not need to move around.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Extreme social inequalities, with extremely wealthy and poor/working class neighborhoods side by side, with unequal services - Lack of quality public services and infrastructure (transport, health, garbage collection….) - Traffic, traffic, traffic - Lack of availability of apartments for rent at reasonable prices (although rents are going down in some areas) 1) The real problem: Cairo’s governance. If I have understood well, there are no elected local councils (at the level of both the whole city and districts), so there is no commitment to solve the city problems. Lack of transparency, commitment, responsiveness…One of the solutions: local elections, elected local councils, together with neighborhood committees with an advisory role or some kind of participatory democracy. Cairo inhabitants – excepted wealthy areas – are neglected, ignored; their voices are not heard in the city planning, management, administration…. Still, they know well what the problems are and should be involved in the solutions. 2) There is a need to have a better wealth distribution, through local taxes for companies and individuals (depending on their income) to create better infrastructure and a safety net for the most disadvantaged.


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

Cairo people is what I like the most. My favorite places in the city: - the old Islamic Cairo (which needs to be better valued, with more renovation projects that involve local inhabitants) and their popular neighborhoods - downtown architecture when Cairo wanted to be Paris, but unfortunately these beautiful buildings have been neglected for decades - the rive Nile

Do you relate to the historic heritage of your district or of Cairo in general? Do you think you have a good sense of history of the city? Would you say you are have “civic pride” or are proud to live in Cairo?

I relate to the historic heritage of Cairo. I fell in love with Cairo many years ago. After Mubarak’s fall, I chose to move to Cairo. I am very much interested in the history of the city, the architecture of the Mameluk period, and later on, the colonial period… I am collecting old postcards of Cairo (1900-1918). When I look at Cairo, I do not see it only as it is now, I imagine also how it was. I would not say that I am proud of living in Cairo, but I am happy to have moved here (with all the good things and inconveniences) in the ongoing transition period.


Do you understand how the city is governed/managed? Do you think your community/district would be better or worst if residents from the community/district were involved in local government (محليات)?

The solution of Cairo’s problems lies in local governance. I was expecting after the parliamentary and presidential elections, local elections too… Again, it is not enough to have elected local councils: inhabitants need to be involved at the level of districts.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Public Space: disrespect towards local inhabitants (these have no sense of “city/district/public space ownership”. There is no respect for local inhabitants… so these do not respect the public space.

Green Space/Parks: so few… so important to be proud of your city, to feel at ease, to build a sense of “community”. Al-Azhar park is a paradise. Wouldn’t it be possible to create small parks, as community projects, with the participation of local inhabitants?

Gated communities: urban apartheid

Museums there is no policy to use museums for pedagogical purposes (for youth and adults), for adult education. The cultural patrimony in a broad sense should not be for tourists only.

Informal areas: I do not know

Downtown: a neglected gem

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
I am moving to Dokki very soon, where I used to live before. It is close to downtown without the disadvantages of the city center. I can walk to the Nile and downtown, which gives me a sense of freedom. I enjoyed walking there: many trees (it is relaxing), the area is well kept, many architecture treasures from colonial times (beautiful villas). The most important: there is in Dokki a neighborhood life.

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Walking, harassment and the urban geography of two Maadis

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By Nadine Hafez

In Cairo it often feels like you have no choice when it comes to your transportation: You’re either driving and stuck in traffic, or you’re in a cab and both you and the driver are stuck in traffic, or you take the metro and you’re stuck in a whole other kind of traffic. So for someone like myself who likes to walk, I try to seize any opportunity that presents itself to walk the streets of Cairo. I live in Maadi and study in Cairo University. So my route back home is usually Cairo University to Maadi by metro and then home inside Maadi a pied.  

But walking in Cairo doesn’t come without its challenges. Every girl and woman in Cairo faces the reality of sexual harassment – primarily verbal – on a daily basis and Maadi is no exception. During my walks, however, I’ve come to notice an interesting phenomenon: The harassment starts and stops at a certain point in Maadi; a street that acts like a switch that turns the harassment on and off.

I’ll try to first quickly sketch a pedestrian map of my walks and a basic structure of Maadi. Maadi is divided into two camps, Old Maadi and New Maadi. We usually take Road 9 as the starting point. The other end of Maadi would extend a little beyond Nasr Street. The fine line that separates between the two is Road 216: Road 9 to Road 216 is Old Maadi, Road 216 onwards is New Maadi. On my walks, I cross the entirety of Old Maadi from Road 9 – where the Sakant metro station is – to the end of Road 216 and turn right onto Al Zahraa road to head home. It’s at that specific turn that the sexual harassment begins.

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[The fine line dividing old and new Maadi, shown above is the intersection of 216 Street and al-Zahraa Road.]

It seems that there is a relation between the architecture of the different parts of Maadi and the sexual harassment we’re subjected to and it runs deeper than just sexual harassment. Old Maadi is a comfortable space i.e. it’s comprised of low residential buildings and villas as well as many foreign embassies between which the spaces are generous; enough to host a garage, a backyard and ample distance to avoid any trespassing on the next door neighbor’s privacy or peace of mind. In there, property is respected by all, because the boundaries of each individual’s or family’s property are very clear. New Maadi on the other hand is much like many other areas in Cairo: condensed residential buildings, scores of stories high and barely any space for parking let alone backyards. The lines that separate my property from yours are very blurry: any one can park in this spot on this street or that in front of any building any time of day.

In reference to sexual harassment, my theory is that one of the factors contributing to its widespread nature is a certain understanding in a large sector of the population’s mentalities that women are property not citizens, i.e. their bodies are public property. It’s why certain people give themselves the right to trespass my right to walk the streets in dignity; his right is superior to mine given the difference in citizenship status.

Accordingly, where property is respected so am I and vice versa. Architecture doesn’t only reflect our decisions and social design; it is also sometimes reflected in our behavior because it’s a two way relationship.

This phenomenon is therefore not a reflection of the relationship between male and female citizens in Cairo only, but also of the relationship between citizens and property and consequently between them and the city. We suffer from something I call valueless ownership. We don’t care to preserve our property as much as we do to maximize the benefits and pleasures obtained from them. Despite the fact that property would need to be preserved in order for you to benefit from it, we’ve reached a point of depreciation of value and a focus on ownership that is blind to anything else.

We thus treat the space of the city we navigate on a daily basis with its function only in mind: it’s no more than a geographical roadmap for citizens to reach desired destinations in order to enhance certain relationships, or get to work and support ourselves financially, or visit the mosque or church or any other ends, the city is always the means, almost never the end in and of itself.

Perhaps if the city does become an end in and of itself, if we care to preserve it as our public property and manage to draw the clear lines between what is public and the private property of every individual in Cairo the women and men of Cairo will have safer, better streets to walk.

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Resident Perspective: Maadi

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.

Where do you live? 

Maadi

Describe your neighborhood in three sentences or less:

Quiet and pleasant neighborhood with lots of greenery, beautiful modern buildings and villas and plenty of squares.

How did you end up living here?

I was born there

What is your relationship with the neighborhood?

I’m very attached to Maadi, all my family lives there; I grew up in Maadi club, and I’m always in touch with fellow old Maadians.

What is your favorite thing about it and what is your biggest complaint?

Favorite thing: The quiet and nice streets of Maadi Sarayat/Degla, such a pleasant walk. Biggest Complaint: Garbage handling by the company the government granted the contract of cleaning Maadi (Europe 2000) they are doing the worst job ever.

How do you get around Cairo?

Driving my car (95% of the time)

How do you feel about Cairo as a city?

Cairo as a city is very chaotic and polluted, but warm and authentic at the same time. I have mixed feeling about Cairo, sometimes I hate it so much from traffic, people’s behavior and how much they don’t abide by laws, street vendors breaking all laws and taking over main streets in downtown by force. When I manage to overlook all these things, I fell in love again with Cairo and it’s culture and authenticity.

Do you know how your neighborhood or Cairo as a city is governed? And if it were possible would be an active participant?

I know how it’s governed, but because the common perception about communities/councils within districts is that they are useless and helpless, so I was never motivated to join.

What is your favorite outing in the city/favorite place? (Malls, parks, cafes, a historic site etc)

Mall: Maadi City Center, Cafes: Starbucks Korba, Historic site: Moez Street

Is there a green space/public space near by? Do you go? Is that important to you?

In maadi, small green spaces are scattered all over the neighborhood (squares).

Do you feel you know your city and its history well enough?

I like living in Cairo, regardless of everything, but I’m not sure I know it that well though.

One thing you wish to see done/improved in Cairo:

Discipline & Law enforcement with no exceptions.

If you were to move to another district, what would it be? OR if you were to move from Cairo which city would you move to and why?

If I’d move from Maadi, I’ll go to suburban compound in 6th October or New Cairo. If I’d move from Cairo, I’ll live in Dahab.

Resident Perspective: Maadi

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.

Where do you live?

Maadi – Road 7 Just over the overpass from road 9 (But I am currently looking to move)

Describe your neighborhood in three sentences or less:

Friendly, green, calm

How did you end up living here?

Was searching for something in Maadi, and apartments on this side of the metro fit better within the budget :)

What is your relationship with the neighborhood? 

I went to CAC (Cairo American College), so from ages 11 – 18 I was always in Maadi. It reminds me of my childhood. I also have many friends from school living in the area.. I feel connected to the community in a way, I know most of the shop owners, workers etc around my area, but I am looking to move.. I used to live in Zamalek years ago, and simply looking for change..

What is your favorite thing about it and what is your biggest complaint?

My favorite thing about Maadi is obviously an increased freedom to walk around – even if with girlfriend, clothing restrictions are a little bit more relaxed - on foot, with less cars driving at high speeds (although this is changing). My biggest complaint is that its too westernized, you have a feeling of disconnect from ‘real’ Cairo, which used to be the point, but now its becoming busy and commercial too, which is annoying.

How do you get around Cairo?

If working, or doing errands etc, the metro.. If metro line isn’t convenient, or want to be lazy or if Thursday night going downtown or something, then a taxi..

How does your neighborhood fit into the city

I love this area of Maadi very much.. It has a much more localized and down to Earth set of people living on this side of the Metro. More Egyptians, who are less affluent, but then in turn more communal and friendly etc.. Though it is still Maadi, old maadi..

How do you feel about Cairo as a city?

I love the cultural heritage of Cairo. Any city with a major river has the potential to become one of the greatest cities in the world. NY, London, Paris etc etc etc, but I am painfully disturbed daily by what policymakers have allowed to happen to it. The breaking of zoning regulation laws, lack of urban planning, suburban streets looking like carparks, 14 story buildings in Mohandseen  that look like projects etc etc.. Its sad.. But in my heart, I always look at the romantic architecture around Cairo, I love driving across the bridges and discovering cool downtown buildings etc etc.. But its sad that most beautiful things are old and destroyed.. There is no NEW Cairo architectural style.. Just massive brown concrete, or oversized satellite cities..

Do you know how your neighborhood or Cairo as a city is governed? And if it were possible would be an active participant (go to community meetings, adopt an issue related to the city/your district, etc)

I am not sure.. I know there are localized governmental bodies, but that they are pretty powerless in making decisions.. If a street light has to be changed, it still has to go through top officials in the ministry of electricity etc..

What is your favorite outing in the city/favorite place? 

Old bars in downtown, imbaba that still have the old school bartenders and clients etc with cool architecture.. Having drinks in those places gives me the same affect as listening to nostalgic music..

Is there a green space/public space near by? Do you go? Is that important to you?

Near Canal st in Maadi, a couple streets from Road 9.. There is a long strip of park that I think used to be a Canal.. I used to lie here and sit and write and smoke cigarettes here when I was a teenager.. It has unfinished staircases that lead to nowhere scattered throughout it too.. Sitting here makes me feel at peace and reminds me of younger years..

Do you feel you know your city and its history well enough? 

Not incredibly well, but I have a rough idea of how things have gone down and how they’ve developed particularly since about the 1940s.. Its tough to say if I am proud.. I love Cairo, I love everything it stands for, but most of those things are in my mind I feel or relate to a time that isn’t now.. This is embarrassing to say, but I have two passports, if I only had my Egyptian one, I would be worried I think, because reversing the urban planning machine that is destroying this country, as well as the fact that 60% of Caireans live in informal areas (not even the areas I ever frequent daily), it would seem that I am living in a 100 year old bubble that is no longer Cairo.. The true Cairo, outside of my head, is informal, brown, concrete and filled with struggle..

One thing you wish to see done/improved in Cairo:

I want to see a reversal of the destruction/disrespect towards zoning regulations, building regulations, and lack of funds for urban planning and development. I want to then see the key issues be handed into the hands of Cairo loving Egyptians, and foreigners, and have their opinions and words be respected in the implementation of fixing Cairo. No more satellite cities, no more Cairo 2050, no more shit..

If you were to move to another district, what would it be? OR if you were to move from Cairo which city would you move to and why?

I love Zamalek.. But now I am looking to move to Dokki to Medan Vinny close to the Sheraton.. Theres good prices there, green, and the location is connected to everywhere..